Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"You're never safe from being surprised till you're dead."

~Mrs. Rachel Lynde in Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery~

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Tuesday Confession

Sometimes (read: more often than not) I leave the lid of my washing machine open when I'm doing laundry.
Not on purpose.
But because I actually forget to close it once I get the load in.
And then I come back to put the clothes in the dryer and my washer is just sitting there wide open with a load of wet clothes inside.

Getting old is hard, y'all.

At least the load actually runs with the lid up, and I can just roll my eyes and shake my head while I'm moving my clean clothes over into the dryer.

Anyone else?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"A fellow has to fight something all through life...didn't somebody once define man as a fighting animal?...and I want to fight disease and pain and ignorance...which are all members one of another. I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne...add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all the good men have been accumulating since it began. The folks who lived before me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by doing something for the folks who will live after me. It seems to me that is the only way a fellow can get square with his obligations to the race."

"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people know more...though I know that is the noblest ambition...but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born."

~Gilbert Blythe & Anne Shirley on their ambitions in Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery~

Monday, February 19, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : Outrageous Grace

Wow. I'm a bit awestruck after reading this beautiful book. Outrageous Grace is the true story of Edmund and Grace Fabian who traveled to Papua New Guinea on Christmas Day in 1969 to begin the difficult work of learning the Nabak language and translating God's Word for the Nabak people. In their many years there, they not only learned this complicated language, they created an alphabet for it and translated the New Testament into Nabak. In Outrageous Grace, Mrs. Fabian tells their story. 
As if learning an unwritten language in the middle of a jungle thousands of miles away from family while growing their own young family wasn't outrageous enough, on April 29, 1993, a little over 23 years into their time in Papua New Guinea, Edmund Fabian was brutally murdered. And by God's grace, amidst threats of violence and senseless hostility, Grace Fabian stayed and finished the work. 

I don't even know what else to say. Reading this book was challenging and humbling. Grace Fabian is just a person like anyone else, but God used her in mighty and powerful ways. Her faithfulness to Him is inspiring, and her sacrificial love for the Nabak people is staggering. 

As a book, Outrageous Grace was so readable. Mrs. Fabian's writing is just real. Her stories are engaging and exciting. The beautifully profound object lessons sprinkled throughout the book of faith, love, and grace will have me coming back to it for sure. The challenge to serve God with my talents and follow wherever He leads is clear and prominent and worthwhile. Reading books like this one or The Hiding Place or I Believed in 'Issa, I Met Jesus are highly profitable and stimulate me to love and good works. What an immeasurable blessing to be surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses

And BONUS: Grace Fabian will be sharing her testimony (and signing books!) at my very own church this upcoming weekend at our annual missions conference. Not only do you need to read this book, you should definitely come and hear Mrs. Fabian speak. You will most certainly be blessed by her testimony and afterwards, we're even having a Foreign Food Fellowship where you can sample food from around the globe. If you live in Central Florida (or even if you don't but feel like traveling), I invite you to join us. Mrs. Fabian will be speaking Sunday  night (February 25th) at 6:00. For the rest of the conference details, click on this handy link I've provided to my church's website. Hope to see you there.

Whose example inspires you to run the race well? What books have impacted your life and faith? If you are interested in buying your own copy of this book, my church still has a few for sale (so come on by!) or you can find it here or here

Friday, February 16, 2018

Casual Fridays

I have been doing pretty great with the book recaps (4 straight Mondays in a row, but who's counting?), but I have totally fallen off the Casual Fridays wagon. I think it's time to remedy that. Let's have a little catch-up. Go grab a hot cup of tea (or coffee, if that's your jam) and settle in for a chat because it's been a while, am I right?!

Let's start by talking about reading because duh. If you've been keeping up around here, you know that I started 2018 firing on all cylinders reading 5 whole books in January. And 4 of those were even from my 2018 book list. Go me! I wanted to start strong because I have some pretty hefty reads coming up. Since the beginning of February, I've started Anna Karenina (my first Russian) and a biography on James Madison. After finishing Part 1 of Anna and getting almost 5 chapters into J.Mad, I took a break to read Outrageous Grace (recap coming Monday!) in preparation for my church's annual missions conference. It's coming up on February 24-25 and the author is going to be there! I'm pretty psyched to meet her, especially after reading her amazing story. I'd like to try to fit Twelfth Night in during the month of February also because for the last two years in a row, I unintentionally read my Shakespearean comedy in February and my tragedy in August so now I think I should just make it an official tradition.

My cutie niece has lost teeth #5 and #6. So basically she is a grown-up and I'm an emotional mess because will they ever listen and stop growing up already?!

My husband bought me a brand spanking new 2017 Chevy Spark and it is the cutest thing I have ever driven. Seriously, it had 13 miles on it when we got it, and I don't think I've ever driven a car that new. Even rentals have more than 13 miles on them.

And it's the sweetest beachy yellow.

And it's a 5-speed.

And it has old-school handcrank windows. But there's still a place to plug in my iPod and it has a backup camera.

Basically, it's my dream car.

But just in case you're thinking my life is too good for me: keep in mind we've had to replace both our vehicles in a 6 month period, our garage door broke, and the heating element in our dryer burned out. Because apparently when you're a grown-up, everything breaks at the same time and you still have to be responsible and fix it with your own money. But you can at least look fabulous driving around your super-cute yellow Spark which you call Daisy because even though you're a grown-up that's not going to stop you from naming all your stuff.
Last weekend, my mom and I flew up to Georgia for the sweetest double baby shower. My sister Caroline and her sister Mary Lou are both expecting new babies in March and April and their other sister Theresa threw them the shower to end all showers. It was ace but the real reason we went was to see that insanely cute big-sister-to-be. Obvs. She is the main event and what we are going to do when her little brother or sister gets here I don't even know.

I have had golden toes for the past couple of weeks now, and I've decided that it's a tragedy that my toes can't permanently be this fun, sparkly color.

Like honestly, every little girl should be born with sparkly, fabulous toes.

And also, my sister Lyndsey is right, the key to a perfect pedicure is letting the coats dry completely before you add the next one. No smudges!
How are the crazies, you ask? Just as lovable as can be. I mean, look at Major all snuggled up with his boy. Give me a break. I think I got a cavity just looking at that sweetness. My sister Savannah got this fancy new phone that takes practically professional photographs. (Hence the two glamor shots on the top of the collage.) I think she really captured their two, polar-opposite personalities. Major: head up, excited about everything, ready to go. Colonel: an old soul who gets really sad when I leave for a weekend. I love them both.

Time for a throwback. Cody and I brought in the New Year celebrating with millions of people in the great state of New York. He snagged the snowy shot of me trying not to freeze to death on the right. The shot on the left is me 20 years ago (who feels old? *sob*) on possibly the hottest day of summer New York has ever experienced rocking slightly too long bangs (my signature look in the 90s) and my Tweety Pie t-shirt. My, how the times have changed.

First of all, I'm not sure which was worse: being overheated to the point of nearly passing out and never making it to the crown, or being so cold I was actually crying standing in line in the snow. But I do know that both experiences were memorable and I shared them with the people I love most in this world so both trips to Lady Liberty were a bigtime #win in my book. And I'm pretty sure I still have that calendar somewhere.

Are you so over this post yet? Oh we're not done. I said we were going to have a catch-up, and I meant it.

Let's talk Yahtzee. In the past month, I have had not just 1 but 2 record-breaking Yahtzee games. A few weeks ago (January 5th to be exact because yes, I date our scoresheets), Cody and I were playing Yahtzee with my brother and his wife and our friends Matt and Lauren over the facetime (okay, yes, we're the biggest nerds possibly on the entire planet: I can admit it), and I scored a 528. Which is nearly impossible. But then just a few days ago, I was playing Cody because he downloaded this really cool program that keeps score for you on the computer (I already admitted we were the biggest nerds on the planet, no need to rub my face in it), and he rolled a 305 which is nothing to sneeze at, but I rolled a 529.

Y'all. Just go ahead and crown me Yahtzee Queen of All Time now and forget about it. I am on fire.
Here's a cute picture of my two little munchkins you can look at while I mention that my amazing mommy-in-law graduated from nursing school in December AND she passed her NCLEX on her first try AND she got a job in a Labor & Delivery unit which is exactly what she wanted because she is such a rockstar and I am so, so proud of her, but she has all the pictures from her graduation and party so I've got nothing to show for this paragraph right now. Mommy Trina, I love you so much and I admire the heck out of you. (And I need to come steal some photos soon.)

Did you think we were done talking about books? Because we are never done talking about books. We started this post with books and we're gonna end it with books.

My sexy husband got me yellow roses and a box set of Mary Poppins books for Valentines Day this year. I can't even. That's it for my book list because no way am I not reading these this year. Despite Mary Poppins being my all-time favorite movie (seriously, just ask my mom), I have never read a single one of the books, and can you even get over how adorable these striped copies are?!

I love, love, love them.

How was your Christmas and New Years? And how have you been liking 2018 so far? Did you get anything particularly sweet for Valentines Day? Have you ever seen or sat in a Chevy Spark? They are the teeniest, tiniest, cutest cars! What have you been reading lately? Catch me up with you!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, 
like a gay knight riding down; 
perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; 
perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, 
until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, 
as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath."

~from Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery~
Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : I Believed in 'Issa, I Met Jesus

After slogging my way through A Wrinkle in Time, The Pearl, and The Great Gatsby (thank goodness I started the year with Anne of Avonlea!), I decided it was time for some non-fiction and wrapped up my January reading with I Believed in 'Issa (the prophet), I Met Jesus (the Son of God) by Dr. Jamel Attar. ('Issa is the Arabic name for Jesus.) This book was such a beautiful picture of God's grace and love, and I read it in one day. At just over 100 pages, it's a quick read, but it's hugely impactful.

This book was first published in French and Arabic in 2013, and the English translation just came out a few months ago in 2017. I have personally had the honor of meeting Dr. Jamel Attar on two different occasions when he has visited my church, and my husband had the privilege of visiting him in France this past summer and seeing where he ministers. 

Attar was born into the Muslim country of Morocco, and by the time he was 18, he was a fervent and devout Muslim, wholly committed to the teachings and rituals of Islam. In his book, he explains what he believed as a Muslim and why he was so devoted to the religion. He was given the opportunity to study in France and there he first met Christians and began a relationship with them thinking he would easily convert them to Islam. However, during the three years that followed, Attar was confronted with the person of Jesus Christ, and his life was radically changed forever. He recounts his conversion to Christianity and how his life changed after he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

I really appreciated the insight this book gave me into Dr. Attar's life as a Muslim. Much the same as I was born and raised in a Christian home, Attar was born into a Muslim one. And on top of that, in the country of Morocco he was not exposed to differing religions and Islam was never cast in a negative light. The religion of Islam was truly his whole life and Muhammad was his hero. While I was knowledgeable about Islam and the five pillars, one thing that really struck me was the way Attar viewed the Bible. In Islam, the Torah, Psalms and Gospel are considered holy and sacred, but Muslims are taught that these sacred writings have been falsified and corrupted by Jews and Christians. The Koran is truly their only real and ultimate authority. On arriving in France, Attar was actually amazed to find printed Bibles because a Bible was an abstract concept to him. This helped me understand why it's so difficult for a Muslim to accept anything a Christian might say to him. 

The miracle of God's grace to reach anyone in even the darkest of places is so beautiful to behold, and it's exactly what you see in this book. I would highly recommend it and encourage you to read it. The translation is clear and easy to read and understand. If you'd like to purchase a copy for yourself, you can find it on Amazon. Or if we're friends, I'd be happy to let you borrow it. 

Have you met Jesus? 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves: 
and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is, not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. 
This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."

~Thomas Jefferson~

Monday, February 5, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : The Great Gatsby

"It was all very careless and confused." F. Scott Fitzgerald's own words at the end of his most famous novel pretty much sum the whole thing up. I found The Great Gatsby to be disjointed, vague, and morally ambiguous. 

The Great Gatsby was first published in 1925 to mixed reviews. It was not received well, and Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of 44 believing himself to be a failure and his work forgotten. Today, however, The Great Gatsby is considered a literary classic and one of the greatest American ones at that. (I strongly disagree.

In this novel, we meet Nick Carraway (also the narrator and the only character I liked at all), Jay Gatsby (aka Jimmy Gatz), Tom and Daisy Buchanan (who are married, y'all), Jordan Baker (a famous female tennis star), and the Wilsons (also a sad married couple). Most fiction reflects the author who writes it, but Fitzgerald's work was particularly autobiographical and he was an alcoholic, unfaithful husband who lived beyond his means to keep up an image throughout his life. Need I say more? The Great Gatsby is ultimately a tragic tale that should caution any sane reader against the dangers of decadence, excess, and infidelity—not attract them toward it. Maybe that seems obvious, but I think people tend to glamorize the past and the Roaring 20s especially seem to be looked back on as a Golden Age in America when in reality, they just weren't great, y'all. The Great Gatsby paints a picture of a lot of miserable, lonely people trying to party away the emptiness of their lives. 

I already mentioned that I found the writing to be very disjointed. On top of that, the dialogue was confused and rarely advanced the story. I think the idea of the story was good and The Great Gatsby could have been a good novel (I can see why this is such a popular one to adapt for the screen—even I would give filmmakers a lot of creative license to bring this to life), but the writing ruined it for me. I can appreciate a tragic tale if it's written well (I'm looking at you, Hardy, Steinbeck), but this one just didn't jive with me. The best parts of the book were the commentaries by Carraway at the very beginning and the very end. Everything in between was kindof a crap-shoot. 

Even having said all that, I am glad that I read this one. Unlike A Wrinkle in Time (which I could have lived the rest of my life without ever having read), I didn't come away from this novel feeling like it was a colossal waste of my time. Even though I didn't enjoy the writing and I would never put Fitzgerald in the same category as Mark Twain or Nathaniel Hawthorne or James Fenimore Cooper as one of the greatest American writers of all time, nor would I even class him with Harper Lee or John Steinbeck as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, somehow I appreciated The Great Gatsby and I'm satisfied that I can check an F. Scott Fitzgerald off my list. The concept was there even if the execution was poor.

Quantity-wise, I've started 2018 strong reading 5 books in January; but quality-wise, I've been pretty disappointed with my book list books thus far. Hopefully we're getting the duds out of the way and the rest of my reading this year will be a little more fulfilling. 

Have you read The Great Gatsby or anything else by F. Scott Fitzgerald? Did you like it? Would you recommend any of his other novels? Were you sympathetic to Mr. Gatsby or disgusted with him?